Analysis of Dead Man Walking

Topics: Death Penalty, Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking Pages: 3 (1629 words) Published: October 22, 2014

Analysis of Dead Man Walking
Kaitlin Gazzo
October 3rd, 2014
Emily Dickinson
Composition 2
Kaitlin Gazzo

The death penalty has been a long discussed and debated subject that questions morality, justice, and effectiveness of the legal system. Use of the death penalty in the United States has always been controversial. Opposition for capital punishment has been heard since the first recorded execution in the 1700’s. Majority of the world has deemed the death penalty unjust, and has abolished the execution of inmates who have committed capital crimes. The United States has one of the few governments, and majority of citizens who condone and continue capital punishment. In the book Dead Man Walking, by Sister Helen Prejean, the topic of capital punishment is discussed through an eye-witness account of her experience befriending a death row inmate. It takes place in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana from 1982-1991. Sister Helen is asked if she would be willing to correspond with a death row inmate. When she agrees, she is assigned to Elmo Patrick Sonnier, a man convicted of raping and murdering a young woman and her boyfriend. This book is written in a first-person, subjective narration from Prejean’s perspective revolving Mr. Sonnier’s and Sister Helens interactions, and throughout the trial involving Mr. Sonniers death sentence. There are many effective devices used in this book that strongly show her opinions towards capital punishment, and convincing the audience that capital punishment is morally wrong and fundamentally flawed. Sister Helen does this by using with the use of pathos. She utilizes the use of pathos predominately by her compassionate tone of voice, the importance of personal responsibility, and the moral cost of executions. This is her most effective argument showing why the death penalty is wrong. The first effective argument opposing the death penalty that Sister Helen uses is the use of pathos. She uses pathos by her...

References: Nussbaum, Martha. "Compassion: The Basic Human Emotion." Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University, 13 Jan. 2009. Web. 03 Oct. 2014.
Reggio, Michael H. "History of the Death Penalty." Frontline, the Execution. PBS, Oct. 1997. Web. 03 Oct. 2014.
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